International celebration of spontaneous theatre & comedy returns to the Capital

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MEDIA RELEASE: For Immediate Release
Monday 18 September

Imagined curses, Shibuya’s traffic, the apocalypse, and motherhood have little in common, but all these and more serve as inspiration for the eclectic improvised offerings coming to BATS Theatre this October for the annual New Zealand Improv Festival.

In its ninth year, the 2017 festival presents an intense programme of unique performances that offer Wellington audiences a tasting platter of improvisation. With 16 shows across just five days, the programme provides something for lovers of comedy, horror, competition, nonsense, and drama, with physical theatre and immersive experiences thrown in to boot.

Opening the festival is the return of Improdome, New Zealand Improv Festival’s battle royale. Issued challenges by Master & Blaster, teams of improvisors from all across the festival will tickle your funny bone, warm your heart, or shock your senses. Every night sees another team qualify for the final, and on Saturday, one will be crowned Improdome Champions 2017.

The World Premieres season includes five brand new experimental works devised by top directors and participants especially for this festival: The Restaurant, The Curse of Blahblahland, Shibuya Scramble Crossing, The Improv Show at the End of the World and The Intrepid Bazaar.

The Spontaneous Showcase season sees five experienced directors present their work with a cast of festival participants brought together for one night only, including The Village, #hashtag, Mothers, Don't See The Show Alone and Plot Mess.

And closing the festival is the festival finale New Zealand vs the World, where a plucky team of local heroes goes up against a dream team of international guests. The cast will be selected from the week’s audience favourites, supported by a live improvising band.

International directors for 2017 include Domeka Parker (Portland, Oregon), Takayuki Ueda (Osaka, Japan), Pauline Calmé (Paris, France), Jim Fishwick (Sydney, AU), Jaklene Vukasinovic (Melbourne, AU), and Rik Brown (Melbourne, AU). They join NZ directors Brendon Bennetts (Christchurch), Christine Brooks (Wellington), Matt Powell (Wellington), and Clare Kerrison (Wellington). Their work features in both Spontaneous Showcase and World Premieres.

Alongside the performance programme, NZIF 2017 offers an extensive workshop programme which has already sold over three-quarters of spaces after less than a week.

“It’s a testament to the reputation and network we’ve built over the past eight years, both nationally and overseas,” says festival director Jennifer O’Sullivan. “The improvisation community knows that this is the place to see, do and be inspired by the best in improvised theatre, and the increasing interest and attendance we’re getting from international performers and directors is hearty proof.”

Spaces are still available for improv practitioners, though we encourage you to book fast - visit for details.

The New Zealand Improv Festival was started in 2008 by Merrilee McCoy and Derek Flores under the management of the Wellington Improvisation Troupe, gathering together improvised theatre makers to present new work, learn new skills and make connections across the industry. In 2015 the New Zealand Improvisation Trust took over management and it has continued to grow and benefit the national community.

Across the 2017 festival each cast, crew, and production will come together in unique combinations, creating spontaneous comedy and theatre every single night. With these incredible improvisors and directors from all around New Zealand (and the world!), you’re in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat every time.

This festival blows me away with its skill and generosity... In short it is a breath-taking, giddying display of mastery.
— Theatreview

New Zealand Improv Festival 2017
Dates: 17-21 October with performances at 6:30PM, 8:00PM, and 9:30PM
Venue: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
Tickets: Book at or call 04 802 4175
$18 Full / $15 Conc / $14 Groups 6+
Three show pass $39 / $30
More Info: for workshop registrations

Festival Crew:
Festival Director: Jennifer O’Sullivan
Producer: Clare Kerrison
Production Manager: Kris Evans Fee
Technical Director: Darryn Woods
Musical Director: Liam Kelly
Design: Matt Powell

Access our media pack here, including high res images, director bios and full show details.